This post is going to be about acceptance, and is very long. I go into some very intense things. But I think that if any of my readers are having a hard time with not being accepted for who they are, this post may help you to see that you can still feel good about yourself in spite of whether or not others seem to accept you.
Acceptance of oneself and by others is a very important thing for any person, no matter how famous or popular they are. A person has to accept their self before they can expect anyone else to accept them. This usually comes from having what is called self-esteem. This trait is nurtured from the time a baby is born. If the baby does not receive positive reinforcement from others, they will never feel good about who they are.
Most of my problems with relationships with others stem from not having that positive reinforcement when I was growing up. Quite the opposite from positive reinforcement is what I received. In other words, negative reinforcement, if it can even be called reinforcement. It came in the form of the following statements. “You haven’t been wanted since the day it was known that you were going to be.” “You are not a young lady, you are a tom-boy.” “You are accident prone.” “You are my backwards child.” Also since I was very thin from not being able to hold down much of what I ate, and not wanting to eat much because of it, I had a few “nice little nick names” such as “Olive Oil”, “Skinny Minnie”, “Bean Pole”, and “Telephone Pole”. All of these names do not really make you feel good about yourself. So if I never received positive reinforcement to be able to build up my self-esteem, where was the self-esteem supposed to come from? I didn’t find out back then. It wasn’t until much later that I started feeling good about myself.
As a baby and a little girl, my hair was baby fine and poker straight. To have any curl in my hair, my Mother had to curl my hair in bobby pins every Saturday night to look pretty on Sunday at Sunday School and Church. My sister, on the other hand was born with beautiful, dark and naturally curly hair. She was always the favorite of the two of us. I would be dressed in plain cotton dresses, and my sister would be dressed in beautiful, lacy, velveteen dresses. On Sunday, I would be in a pretty dress though, with big, stiff, lacy, and curly slips underneath it to make it stick out. But I came up with ways to be noticed and feel good about myself.
To get attention when some relatives were visiting from out of town, and a lot of pictures were being taken of us four children, I can remember a picture that was taken when I was around four. My sister was in her usual beautiful, lacy, velveteen dress, and I was in a plain cotton dress, as usual. She was being held by one of the relatives, and they were making over her. I had a skinned knee. To make sure that I was going to be noticed in the picture, I got up on the rocking horse and pulled up the skirt on my dress to show my skinned knee. My two brothers were in their nice slacks and plaid shirts, one on either end of the horse. That picture got and still gets talked about every time anybody sees it. The first question is always, “Bonnie, why are you showing your skinned knee?” Usually followed by, “That just goes to show what a tom-boy you are, instead of a little lady. Little ladies don’t show their skinned knees.” Hard to build any self-worth from this kind of reinforcement. But, as usual, “by hook or crook, and heck or high water” as the older generation used to say, I managed to build some self-esteem from somewhere. Usually by “Tooting my own whistle.” I always told people that I had to do that, because if I didn’t do it my self, it was for sure that nobody else would toot it for me. I have always tried to be a good person and obey the Ten Commandments. In spite of it all, I do my best to stay positive and think good about myself. Everyday I try to recount the events of the day and find as many things that are positive as I can. And I say my prayers when I go to bed.
Now to get back to the subject of self-esteem and other people giving you positive reinforcement. Unfortunately the other people need to be from all fields and or walks in life. This means that they need to be from family, friends, co-workers, and even from partners and, strange as it may seem, your doctors. Parents need to let their children know quite frequently that they are accepted and loved, no matter what they have done, or what they look like, be it fat or skinny, or short or tall. If a child doesn’t receive this from the start, then they grow up very confused and as some people put it, “afraid of their own shadow”. If anyone should know about this, I should. From the time I could walk and talk in sentences, I was told, “You haven’t been wanted since the day it was known that you were going to be.” There was no way, at that young age that I knew what that meant. When I became a young lady, I finally knew what that statement meant. At that point, I asked my Mother why she told me that. She told me that when she found out that she was expecting me, my real Father told her to fall down the steps and try to lose me. Obviously my Mother wanted me and did not do that. That made me feel good about myself.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my sister and brothers told me that I was adopted because I was nothing like them. When I was 22 months old, I had to have major surgery on my head to remove a tumor that was pressing on my brain. I would wake up crying and screaming every time that I turned over on my right side. When I got older, my sister and brother would kid me that the navel doctors took out my brains and left the tumor in, and that was why I was so stupid, all the time. However, I knew in my heart that I was a good girl and tried to always do whatever I was told to do. I also knew that I was not stupid. One phrase that helped me through the taunting was, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.” Believe it or not, the more I told myself that, the better I felt about myself. That self talk works wonders. You just have to concentrate on what you know to be positive about yourself.
During almost all of the way through elementary school, I didn’t have very many friends. As a matter of fact, my Mother used to tell my younger sister that if she wanted to go out to play she had to take me with her. She always hated that. So she would take me with her so that she could go out and play. Usually what happened would be that I would sit on the back steps of wherever we were while all the other kids played. Whenever I got up to play, they would either quit playing or else go someplace else to play. This in no way made me feel accepted or even liked, let alone loved by my sister. This was true until the sixth grade when I started babysitting. During that time, I did a tremendous amount of positive self talking.
Once I started babysitting, the parents that I babysat for liked me. I have always been good with babies and younger children. I just could never relate to anybody my own age. Unfortunately that has remained true most of my life. I do have a few friends, but not many when compared to most people. But the ones that I do have are true friends and not just “good weather friends”, that are only around when things are going good and they leave when you really need friends. They are there for me no matter what.
About the only time I had a lot of friends was when I joined an organization called Job’s Daughters. The full name is The International Order Of Job’s Daughters. I have never been as happy as what I was while I was active with that group. Once I became twenty years old, I reached what they called Majority Membership Age. When I actually turned twenty-one, I could no longer be active with them. I could have been one of the leaders, but I could not afford to make all of the trips that the girls take, so very sadly, I stopped going to the meetings. This is probably the main time in my life that I have really felt that I was accepted for who and what I was.
When I turned seventeen I was taken away from my abusive Step-Father and Mother. I went to a friend’s house as a live in babysitter. I graduated from High School barely in the top half of my class. After High School, I went to a Business College and graduated with honors with a Computer Programming Degree. I was no longer in an abusive situation and therefore was able to really concentrate on my studies. After finishing business college, I met a nice guy and we dated for a couple of years and we were married. I moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Lexington, Kentucky. Just about a month to six weeks after I was married, I found a job working at a bank. While working at the bank, I took banking classes through the American Bankers Association and the American Institute of Banking. I received all four certificates that were offered and some of the diplomas that were offered. I did so with honors. It wasn’t until after I ended up disabled and lost my job that I stopped taking classes and earning diplomas. After being disabled for over three years, I decided it was time to go back to college. So, at 41 years old, I started to the local community college. My major was going to be Respiratory Therapy. Unfortunately, I ended up in a wheelchair. It is sort of impossible to do respiratory therapy from a wheelchair. I had to change majors half the way through the program. Once again, I chose the computer field. Upon completion, I had an associates degree with honors in Computer Science and Computer Programming. It took three months after completing school to find a job. Once again, I found a job at a bank. That job only lasted for four years. Come to find out, I was too disabled to work due to having to have so many surgeries and therefore being absent too much. I got fired. I had never been fired in my life, and I had worked ever since I graduated.
My point in telling you the information about my schooling and my jobs has not been to brag about the degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates that I received, with honors, but to point out that it is possible to succeed against the odds.
Up until the last three or four years, I have mainly concentrated on getting and keeping myself well. That has proved to be a very hard job. However, I have found that with a laptop computer, even with being in the hospital and having surgery, it is possible to keep up several word press websites. At one time, I had as many as eleven websites. Many of them have been consolidated into this mammahen.com website. Believe it or not, I have started some new websites. Together, with the old websites and the new ones, I now have seven websites and am planning on starting two or three more. I guess you could say that I have the word press, website blog bug.
Even though the doctors tell me I am not in good shape with all of the medical problems that I have, I tell them that, “I may be in bad shape, but I am in good shape for the shape that I am in.” I know that in my heart, I have to stay positive if I want any chance of making a difference in other peoples lives by telling my story. Granted, there are days that all I am able to do is stay in bed and rest. But even on those days, I am usually thinking up and writing down things to post on my blogs, as well as writing more poems. I have found that writing poetry is a great way to express my feelings, no matter what they are. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I too am sad and depressed when my different medical problems flare up. But the key is that I find something to be positive about in spite of the way I feel medically and physically. It may not be anything more that the fact that I can move my arms without hurting even if I am not able to get out of bed because of my back, my legs, or my dizziness. I can move my arms, which means that I can type on the computer and/or write a poem on a tablet.
So I will close by saying that it is very important to find something, no matter how small, to be positive about every day. If you haven’t given finding something positive a thought or a chance, try it. You may be surprised how much better it will make you feel. It may not make a big difference at first, but the more that you do it, the better you will feel. I know this to be a fact.